Infant homicide at the hands of mothers: Toward a sociological perspective

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Infant homicide has been examined, explained, justified, and treated according to psychiatric‐psychological perspectives. There has been little examination of the social correlates directly pertaining to infant homicide. This article examines infant homicide from the perspective of 15 mothers who have been deemed legally responsible for the deaths of their infants. The qualitative data collected were derived by intensive interviewing. The findings of these data are given within a conceptual framework of social learning, economic deprivation, self‐attitude, and substance abuse theories. The objective of this research was to identify relevant common factors that are potential social correlates of infant homicide and to incorporate them into a multidimensional, theoretical model. It is suggested that when infant homicide occurred at the hands of the mothers interviewed, it was the result of a culmination of predisposal factors evolving from the mothers’ socialization experience and precipitating factors stemming from economic deprivation and a lack of interpersonal support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


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